Iowa ethics panel proposal would require e-filing for campaign finance reports

Draft bill could be amended to allow the ethics board to waive the e-filing requirement

James Q. Lynch
Published: January 2 2014 | 4:00 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:34 am in
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Campaign finance reporting could go all 21st Century if the Iowa Legislature adopts a proposal from the state ethics agency.

“We think it’s time,” Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclosure Board Director Megan Tooker said about a bill to require that all reports to the board be filed electronically.

Electronic filing – e-filing – has been required for legislative and statewide campaigns, such as governor. Now the board wants to require all campaign finance reports to be filed electronically rather than in hand-written formats.

Tooker is optimistic lawmakers will see the value – and ease – of filing electronically. Some told her they regretted voting to require e-filing, but once they did it wondered why they waited so long to make the change.

“I think that’s usually the experience,” said House State Government Committee Chairman Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa. Tooker’s proposal likely will go through Vander Linden’s committee.

“I would generally say yes, that it sounds like the right way to go,” Vander Linden said, “but there’s always an exception.

Tooker believes her draft bill could be amended to allow the ethics board to waive the e-filing requirement for cause to alleviate Vander Linden’s concern.

Tooker also is encouraged by the board’s experience with county party central committees, which also must e-file.

“Those are some small committees and we had some resistance, but they all do it,” Tooker said.

“As you might imagine, a lot of those county party committees are run by older people,” she said. “I’ve had people tell me they don’t have a computer, but they go to the library or a friend’s house. They’ve come up with solutions and they do a good job.”

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